The Cost of Beauty: Is a 'Revenge Body' Worth It? - beauty budget - beauty regimen

The Cost of Beauty: Is a ‘Revenge Body’ Worth It?

•  4 minute read

Budgeting for beauty isn’t very common, but it should be. Maybe it’s time to itemize the scores of ways women spend money on looking good.

I was sitting on my couch with little motivation to go the gym (sound familiar?) when I came across Khloe Kardashian’s reality show Revenge Body. Even though I don’t agree with the reductive use of the body to create envy and jealousy in another human, I couldn’t help feeling inspired by the participants’ commitment.

 

With the support of world-class trainers and nutritionists, contestants are able to transform their thinking, eating, and approach to exercise to create their “revenge bodies.” They’re also rewarded for their hard work with a high-end makeover — hair, nails, makeup, and wardrobe for the ladies; a haircut, grooming services, and outfits for the gentlemen.

 

After watching back-to-back episodes, I rolled myself off the couch, went to the gym, and stepped onto the treadmill. I was extremely proud of my ability to walk for 45 minutes at the highest incline in an effort to beat away all my baby weight for a little while.

 

But within a few days, I found myself back in the valley of body shame and general disdain for my relationship with food.

 

Luckily that didn’t last long. Instead of beating myself up yet again for failing to make the “snap back” with my post-baby body, I started thinking deeply about the various ways that marketing preys on women to make us equate our worth with our looks and feel imperfect and inadequate if we fall short — unless we buy a products and services to make us more beautiful.

 

My Beauty Regimen

My insight hasn’t completely lead me away from this trap. For example, I still make monthly visits to the medical spa because I’m insecure about adult acne. However, I’ve been more mindful of how much of my monthly budget goes toward my appearance and to overcome the seeds of self-doubt planted by corporations.

 

And in the case of my beauty budget (see below), some of the costs aren’t strictly about beauty. For example, my gym membership could fall under the category of fitness, while getting my hair done on a monthly basis could arguably be considered basic hygiene or wellness.

 

My Monthly Beauty Budget

  • Eyebrows: $5 (threading or waxing)
  • Hair: $100 washing and styling every two months, or $50 a month
  • Pedicure: $30 every three months, or $10 a month
  • Gym membership: $55

 

My total monthly beauty budget: $120, which is less than 2 percent of my total gross income per month

 

From Low- to Medium-Maintenance Beauty Costs

My beauty budget is lightweight compared with that of more beauty-conscious women. IBISWorld estimates that the hair and nail industry netted $56 billion in revenue in 2017, according to a report from last October. This number begins to make sense when you take into account that it’s common for women to get manicures and pedicures twice a month, in addition to having their hair cut, colored, and styled every month.

 

Let’s also not forget the monthly budgets that make room for airbrush tanning, spray tanning–booth rates, and/or tanning bed sessions averaging $25 a session. According to Light Therapy Device, it takes four to six sessions a week to achieve a tan if you have fair skin. For medium skin tones, you’ll need two to four a week sessions to make your skin nice and brown.

 

And what would that gorgeous glow be without a glorious white smile to complement it? According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Americans paid an average of $600 per visit for in-office tooth-whitening procedures in 2015. These procedures last at least three years with maintenance in the form of at-home whitening products ranging in cost from $35 to $45 for a 30-day supply.

 

Here’s what the monthly beauty price tag would look like for a woman with a medium-maintenance regimen:

 

Monthly Beauty Budget for Medium-Maintenance Women

  • Hair: $100 (biweekly wash and trim)
  • Nails: $80 (manicure and pedicure twice a month at $40 per session)
  • Eyebrows: $5
  • Tooth whitening: $85 (12 in-office bleachings for $600, plus $35 per month for at-home maintenance)
  • Tanning   $100 to $400 per month (four $25 sessions four times a week)
  • Gym Membership: $55

 

Total monthly beauty budget for medium-maintenance women: $420

 

 

The Cost of Beauty for High-Maintenance Women

For some women, this is just the beginning. Rather than stop at a drugstore or a spa to buy themselves the body and looks of their dreams, many elect to go under the knife. An American Society of Plastic Surgeons study found that the top five cosmetic surgeries for women in 2016 were breast augmentation, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, and tummy tucks. Assuming there are no complications from any of the these services, here are their average costs:

 

  • Breast augmentation: $6,450, or $537.50 per month
  • Liposuction: $6,000, depending on region of body, or $500 per month
  • Nose reshaping: $5,046, or $420.50 per month
  • Eyelid surgery: $4,525, or $377.08 per month
  • Tummy tuck: $5,798, or $483.16 per month

 

Depending on a woman’s body goals, she could elect to undergo surgery for any number of these procedures, making it more difficult to calculate a high-maintenance beauty. But if we were to assume a woman wanted to have nose shaping, you can add this cost to the other costs outlined in a “medium” maintenance beauty price tag.

 

Monthly Beauty Budget for High-Maintenance Women

  • Hair: $100 (biweekly wash and trim)
  • Nails: $80 (manicure and pedicure twice a month at $40 per session)
  • Eyebrows: $5
  • Tooth whitening: $85 (12 in-office bleachings at $600, plus $35 per month for at-home maintenance)
  • Tanning: $100 to $400 per month (four $25 sessions four times a week)
  • Nose reshaping $420.50 ($5,046 total)
  • Gym Membership: $55

 

Total monthly beauty budget for high-maintenance women: $840

 

 

The Bottom Line: Is a Revenge Body Worth It?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s a matter of values. Some women value being highly desirable and shell out the equivalent of rent money or a mortgage payment to look their best.

 

Other women place their looks a little lower on their list of priorities. This isn’t to say they don’t care about their appearance, but rather that they don’t see the value of subscribing to mainstream ideals that force them to part with their money.

 

Whether you identify as a low-maintenance, medium-maintenance, or high-maintenance woman, what’s most important is that you become fully aware of how much your beauty regimen is costing you on a monthly and annual basis.